A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fish may keep age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at bay, according to the results of a meta-analysis. AMD is a leading cause of visual impairment.
A group led by Elaine W-T. Chong, MBBS, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, reviewed nine studies involving 88,974 individuals and 3,203 cases of AMD. One long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is particularly abundant in the outer segments of the retina; a lack of DHA may lead to AMD. DHA and another potentially beneficial long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, are found mainly in such oily fish as tuna, sardines, salmon, and trout.
Researchers found that eating fish two or more times a week and consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduced risk of both early and late AMD. People who ate two servings or more of fish per week were 37% less likely to develop early AMD. Similarly, people with the highest levels of omega-3 intake were 38% less likely to have late AMD.
The authors of the analysis warn that the current literature does not offer enough evidence to support the routine consumption of fish and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids for AMD prevention (Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126:826-833).